(Last updated: January 8, 2019)
Criteria to qualify for rankings:
- Must be younger than 23 years old
- Cannot have played more than 10 NHL games
- Must be either under contract or drafted by the Golden Knights
Recently Removed: Erik Brannstrom (trade for Mark Stone)
With the Wolves, he’s put in an awesome first half of the season becoming a power play weapon and establishing himself as a reliable option in his own end. The only question that remains for Hague is if his skating will translate to the NHL. It’s translated from juniors to the AHL, if it translates to the NHL, he’s going to be one of the biggest steals of the 2017 Draft. Don’t be surprised if he gets a quick look down the stretch of the season with the Golden Knights.More on Hague
7/28/18 – Since slipping out of the 1st round, Hague has seemed to play with a chip on his shoulder, going out and winning the Max Kaminsky Trophy for the OHL’s Most Outstanding Defenseman. Hague is a giant on the ice standing 6’6″ tall and weighing over 215 pounds. He also has a laser beam of a shot that he unleashes when he’s able to join the attack or on the power play. His greatest defensive skill is his reach, but his skating still holds him back a bit from being a completely reliable defenseman. Hague will almost certainly head to the AHL this season where he may get a chance to make his NHL debut at some point during the year.
Glass was named one of Team Canada’s top three players at World Juniors while centering the Canadian’s first line. He scored two goals and tallied five assists in the tournament. In the WHL he continues to put up video game numbers scoring at a more than two points per game clip. He’s proven to be an excellent defensive center with terrific vision. However, only two of his six points came in the final four games of World Juniors and the same concerns I’ve had with him earlier remained. I’m just not sure he’s got the offensive upside necessary to eventually be a Top-6 player in the NHL. Scouts and coaches continue to rave about him, and he’s shown to be dominant at Junior levels, but it needs to continue against over-age players and we’ve yet to see that in extremely limited action.More on Glass
7/28/18 – The first draft pick in Vegas Golden Knights history has done nothing but dominate since being selected by George McPhee. He scored 102 points in 64 regular season games in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks including 37 goals. What makes Glass such a promising prospect is his ability (and willingness) to defend. He’s been relied upon in Portland as a top penalty killer and is consistently given a large minute load when his team is ahead. He’s also widely regarded as a tenacious forechecker, a skill that will fit in well with the current Golden Knights roster. Glass projects in the NHL as a two-way player with good speed, solid vision, and the ability to score. He’s still likely a year out from making the NHL roster and will probably head back to Portland this year
3) Jonas Rondbjerg (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #65 overall
Age: 19 (March 31, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Vaxjo Lakers HC (SHL)
Previous Ranking: #5
Rondbjerg was far and away the best player on Team Denmark at World Juniors. He looks like a physical force on the ice who is reliable all 200 feet. Scoring remains a bit of a question mark as he and his teammates didn’t do much of it in that tournament and he’s struggled to score with Vaxjo in Sweden. However, as a 3rd round pick, he looks like he’s got an NHL future and should make the jump to the AHL next season.More on Rondbjerg
7/28/18 – Rondbjerg impressed at 2018 Development Camp consistently creating scoring chances for teammates. He has very good hockey sense which tends to lead to finding himself with the puck in open areas. When he’s there, he’s a smart player that picks out the right play more often than not. Rondbjerg has played 40 games in the SHL playing against grown men so he may be ready for the jump to the AHL this season. However, it’s more likely he’ll stay in Sweden for another full season. He has shined when playing for his country, Denmark. In six games at the World Junior Championship, he tallied seven points which ranked him tied for 12th behind many top prospects including Casey Mittelstadt, Martin Necas, Filip Zadina, Cale Makar, Brady Tkachuk, Sam Steel and others. It’s elite company to be keeping in a very competitive tournament. Don’t sleep on Rondbjerg, he might end up being the Golden Knights steal of the 2017 Draft.
4) Paul Cotter (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #115 overall
Age: 19 (November 16, 1999)
Most Recent Team: London Knights (OHL)
Previous Ranking: #8
Cotter has had an interesting year after starting at Western Michigan. He was having limited success and even found himself scratched from a game at one point. He decided to leave school to go play with the London Knights of the OHL where he’s thrived. 12 points in 17 games has earned him a consistent role in the lineup of a good team. Also, Cotter signed a contract with the Golden Knights recently. This kid can score and he’s probably going to keep doing it at every level he plays at. I’d still guess he’s two or three years away from making his way to Vegas, but you can bet he’ll be a name to keep an eye on at next year’s World Juniors.More on Cotter
7/28/18 – The clear standout from the draft class of 2018 at Development Camp. Cotter has since been invited to play for Team USA at the World Junior Showcase where he’ll be joined by fellow VGK prospect Brandon Kruse. There’s just a certain smoothness to Cotter’s game that is fun to watch. He barely looks like he’s moving when he has the puck and has shown an innate ability to make good passes in traffic. Plus, he has a lightning quick release on his shot which gives most goalies trouble. He’ll head to Western Michigan this year to play in the NCAA and hopefully, he’ll have a spot on the World Junior Championship team in early 2019.
T5) Zach Whitecloud (D)
Acquired: Signed as Free Agent on March 8th, 2018
Age: 22 (November 28, 1996)
Most Recent Team: Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #4
As somewhat of a veteran among the Wolves defense, at age 22, Whitecloud continues to look like the same player we’ve seen since he signed with Vegas. He’s good defensively with a little bit of offensive skill. He moved down on the list because of the way the Golden Knights treated him during the time when Nate Schmidt was out. Jake Bischoff made the roster over Whitecloud and Bischoff couldn’t get into a game. The more and more you see of Whitecloud the more you see a solid NHLer who just needs his breakthrough moment.More on Whitecloud
7/28/18 – The most pro-ready prospect in the entire Golden Knights pool is Zach Whitecloud. He spent the final few weeks of the season with the Golden Knights and even played in an NHL game with Vegas in which he was +3 vs. Edmonton. In Development Camp he was physically the most ready player, but he also displayed great poise and leadership on the ice. When his time comes, and it may not necessarily be out of training camp, he’s not going to be a flashy player, but he will be reliable. He projects as a solid stay-at-home defenseman with potential upside offensively as he matures. His place near the top of the list is more based on how close he is to playing in the NHL than it is the likelihood he becomes a superstar player. That being said, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Whitecloud puts together a long and successful NHL career.
T5) Dylan Coghlan (D)
Acquired: Signed as Free Agent on September 20, 2017
Age: 20 (February 19, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #6
He’s become a stalwart in Rocky Thompson’s Wolves lineup. As a right-hand shot, he certainly has value to the Golden Knights eventually as they are short on RD’s. He’s in a very similar spot as Whitecloud, hence the tie, as there’s a bit of a logjam of defensemen and seemingly no room for any of them to ge through. Brannstrom, Hague, Whitecloud, Bischoff, and Coghlan all seem to deserve a look but maybe only one or two will be likely to get it this year after rosters expand. There are a lot of factors of who gets that shot first and when, and it’s not all to do with talent. I wouldn’t expect to see Coghlan in a VGK uniform any time soon.More on Coghlan
7/28/18 – As an invitee to both 2017 Development Camp and Training Camp, Coghlan impressed and parlayed it into a contract before heading back to Kennewick, Washington for the WHL season. While there, he had a massive offensive year for a defenseman, putting up 63 points in 69 games. He’s going to have to get a bit better in his own end, which is part of the reason he was passed over in back-to-back drafts, but his offensive ability is exciting.
7) Ivan Morozov (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #61 overall
Age: 18 (May 5, 2000)
Most Recent Team: SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
Previous Ranking: #10
The first real chance we’ve gotten to see Morozov was a good one. He looked very good at times as the 4th line center for Team Russia. His selection to this team was impressive in the first place as Russia historically does not like to choose 18-year-olds for their U20 team. However, Morozov helped make an impact and looks like a terrific 200-foot player. His backchecking was probably the most exciting part of his game as he constantly would come back into his own zone, break up a play and then get the puck moving forward. Still want to see a lot more of him, but don’t be surprised if he’s in the top 3 or 4 the next time I update this list.More on Morozov
7/28/18 – Unable to attend Development Camp following the Draft, Morozov remains a bit of an unknown. However, he has recently signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg (yeah, the Shippy one) and was selected with Vegas’ only pick in the top 75 of the 2018 Draft which indicates he’s highly regarded. He has quick hands and should be a strong two-way center if/when he makes it to the NHL. A trip to World Juniors would do well for him to move up this list where he probably belongs.
8) Lucas Elvenes (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #127 overall
Age: 18 (August 18, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Rogle BK (SHL)
Previous Ranking: #15
There is obviously an inherent bias towards guys directly after World Juniors, but I will admit, I went in with a keen eye on Elvenes looking for one thing, playmaking at even-strength. Finally, I saw it and I saw it in bunches while Sweden was still in the tournament. He looked dangerous almost every time he was on the ice and with a maligned Swedish forward group he was probably the second or third best forward on the team. Playing in the SHL appears to have him looking for the puck a bit more and becoming more active in the play. I’m still not 100% sold this is an NHL prospect, but he’s a lot closer now than I thought four months ago.More on Elvenes
7/28/18 – A member of Team Sweden for the second consecutive World Junior Summer Showcase, Elvenes needs to build on his last international appearance. He put up four assists and a goal in two games last year with the Swedish U20 team but his game hasn’t translated on the North American ice at Development Camp. He didn’t flash much at all during the scrimmages either year. Playing on the smaller ice may be a factor.
9) Reid Duke (F)
Acquired: Signed as Free Agent on March 6, 2017
Age: 22 (January 28, 1996)
Most Recent Team: Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #14
This massive jump up the rankings has almost everything to do with the call-up he received from the Golden Knights. Of course, he didn’t end up in an actual game, but as a 22-year-old getting the call after playing in the AHL goes a long way. He’s been very good with the Wolves and looked like he belonged in practice with VGK. When they first signed Duke I thought, well this is cute but there’s no way this guy ever plays in the NHL. He’s slowly won me (and seemingly the organization) over and I’ll now say the exact opposite, I’d be stunned if he doesn’t play in the NHL.More on Duke
7/28/18 – Forever the answer to the trivia question, the first Golden Knight is back from the shoulder injury which kept him out a majority of last season. Duke took an off-ice leadership role at Development Camp but the on-ice success was missing. As a 22-year-old playing with 18 and 19-year-olds Duke was expected to stand out in a big way. He didn’t. He went scoreless in 14 games with the Chicago Wolves after returning from injury. All this being said, Duke has had his downs in his career and he’s always seemed to rebound. Probably higher on this list than he should be at the moment, there’s just something about this guy that makes it feel like he’s eventually going to break through.
10) Jack Dugan (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #142 overall
Age: 20 (March 24, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Providence College (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: #7
The fact that Dugan dropped three spots has much more to do with what I think of the system as a whole as to what I think of Dugan. In short, I really like this kid and think he’s going to be a good player someday. The problem is that NCAA kids take forever to get to the NHL and I don’t see any difference with him. As a freshman he’s put up 22 points in 20 games at Providence so he’s continuing to produce despite the rise in competition.More on Dugan
7/28/18 – The leap Dugan made from the 2017 Development Camp to 2018 was tremendous. He was a scoring machine in the scrimmages both putting the puck in himself and setting up teammates. Last year he scored 66 points in 54 games with the Chicago Steel. This year he’ll be making the leap to Providence College to play in the strong Hockey East conference. Don’t expect to see Dugan in a Golden Knights uniform anytime soon, it literally might be four years away, but this is a player with a lot of upside and will likely go from relative unknown in the Golden Knights prospect system to an impactful player on NHL ice in a hurry.
11) Jake Leschyshyn (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #62 overall
Age: 19 (March 10, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Previous Ranking: #16
Let me start out by saying I am NOT someone who gets overly excited about numbers in the CHL, but this kid just keeps pumping them out. Despite being traded from Regina to Lethbridge Leschyshyn has kept up an over a point per game pace and he is getting rave reviews from everyone who watches him play. Back to that trade, he was traded for a massive haul of draft picks because Lethbridge believes they can win now. I’m admittedly still skeptical, but there might be something in this 2nd round pick we hadn’t really seen yet.More on Leschyshyn
7/28/18 – Prior to the 2017 Draft, Leschyshyn tore his ACL and missed a majority of the season. He was having a good year and was seemingly destined to be a 1st round selection. The injury caused him to slip to the 2nd round where the Golden Knights selected him. He’s recovered from the surgery, but his game has not seemed to come completely back. He played as the 3rd line center on the Regina Pats and did not make a major impact on the CHL’s biggest stage, the Memorial Cup. Then, at Development Camp he didn’t really stand out like a 2nd round pick should. It’s far from time to give up on Leschyshyn, but this season will be important for him to get going back in the right direction.
12) Brandon Kruse (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #135 overall
Age: 19 (March 26, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Bowling Green State University (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: #9
Kruse continues to put up solid numbers at Bowling Green as a sophomore. Seven goals and 26 points in 21 games is exactly what he needs to be doing. Look forward to seeing how much bigger he’s gotten when he gets to come back to Vegas in July for Development Camp.More on Kruse
7/28/18 – The other Golden Knight prospect to be invited to the World Junior Summer Showcase is 19-year-old Kruse. He’s an excellent passer that is a good skater and has the ability to score. As a freshman at Bowling Green, he scored 33 points in 41 games. At Development Camp, Kruse was impressive despite looking tiny. Just 5’9″ and weighing less than 160 pounds Kruse is a long way from being NHL-ready, however, the tools are there and he looks to be a promising prospect.
13) Keegan Kolesar (F)
Acquired: via Trade from Columbus Blue Jackets for 2017 2nd Round Pick (selected 2015 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #69 overall)
Age: 21 (April 8, 1997)
Most Recent Team: Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #11
Kolesar has had a somewhat quiet season with the Wolves and is starting to become a bit of a concerning prospect. Speed in the number one concern with him and the question is, as a 21-year-old, can he ever build up enough of it to play at the NHL level. He’s a -10 in 37 games and has just 14 points with the Wolves this year. He helps fill an age gap in which the Golden Knights are slim, especially with forwards, but I’m not counting on seeing Kolesar in a VGK jersey in the near future, if ever.More on Kolesar
7/28/18 – The Golden Knights used one of the many picks they acquired in the Expansion Draft for the 2017 Draft on a player from the 2015 Draft. Kolesar is a strong player that skates well and has an excellent shot. He had a bit of a rocky year in his first professional season however slipping between the AHL and ECHL. He’s got all the characteristics of being a typical Golden Knights fourth liner, but the troubling season coupled with the lukewarm 2018 Development Camp leaves some pause.
14) Slava Demin (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #99 overall
Age: 18 (April 4, 2000)
Most Recent Team: University of Denver (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: #12
At the University of Denver he’s not putting up massive numbers but has been good in the +/- category at +14 in 18 games which is tied for 3rd among all freshman in the NCAA. He’s scored two of his three goals in his last two games so he may be starting to pick it up.More on Demin
7/28/18 – Like Morozov, Demin was unable to attend Development Camp. Thus, he’s much further down this list than he probably should be. He’s an exciting puck-moving defenseman with excellent offensive upside and isn’t undersized like many other Golden Knights 2018 draft picks. He’s highly regarded defensively as well. Everything you read about Demin makes him out to be a great defensive prospect, but the fact that we’ve yet to see him has him down much further than where he was drafted. Oh, and don’t be fooled by the name, he’s American. Born in California, played in Anaheim Ducks youth system, and is committed to Denver University.
15) Ben Jones (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 7th Round, #189 overall
Age: 19 (February 26, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Previous Ranking: #13
Now the captain of the IceDogs, Jones has continued to dominate the OHL. He’s a +26 38 games into the season which is likely more due to his defensive prowess than offensive. I’m ready to see what he can do in a league with better competition.More on Jones
7/28/18 – The last skater selected by the Golden Knights in the 2017 Entry Draft was one of the eight players from that draft who signed a contract. He was a bit more noteworthy in 2017 than 2018, but there was nothing glaring to the negative either year. Jones had a huge year in Niagara scoring 79 points in 68 games and added 12 more in 10 playoff games. Late round picks have an incredibly low success rate, which is why he is so low on this list, but he’ll be a guy to keep an eye on in Training Camp this year. Wouldn’t be a major surprise if he’s top 15 or even top 10 by the time he heads back to Niagara.
16) Xavier Bouchard (D)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #185 overall
Age: 18 (February 28, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
Previous Ranking: #17
I’m not a big +/- guy, but it’s one of the only reliable stats beyond goals and assists we consistently get from juniors. Boy did Bouchard take a step in the right direction in that category. He was -30 last season, this year in 32 games he’s a +20. That’s going to be important for a puck-mover like Bouchard. 23 assists in 32 games ain’t half bad either.More on Bouchard
7/28/18 – A tall slender defenseman who skates reasonably well for his size. He’s known as a puck-mover, but a smart offensive-minded defenseman. After a big first year in Baie-Comeau and earning the “A” in year two he took a bit of a step back, posting a -30 rating and dropping 13 points in scoring. At Development Camp he looked a bit uneasy at times but certainly had some strong moments that made it clear the talent is there.
17) Connor Corcoran (D)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #154 overall
Age: 18 (August 7th, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Previous Ranking: #18
He’s going to be a tough one to keep track of because he’s a typical defensive-minded defenseman. The stats won’t look good and he’s not going to find his way into many glowing postgame stories. He’s kind of in a class of his own among VGK prospects as there aren’t many giant defensemen list.More on Corcoran
7/28/18 – The youngest Golden Knight prospect is likely going to be a more defensive minded player as he matures. He’s physically very strong and looked excellent along the boards at Development Camp, but his skating and puck-moving skills never quite displayed themselves at City National Arena.
18) Nick Campoli (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #158 overall
Age: 19 (February 16, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Clarkson University (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: #19
It’s been a quiet freshman year at Clarkson for Campoli scoring just twice in 18 games. His face-off numbers are not ideal for a center but he’s been good at staying out of the box. TOI numbers are not readily available for NCAA games but his shot total of 13 in 18 games makes me feel like he must not play much.More on Campoli
7/28/18 – Campoli is already a Golden Knight, heading to Clarkson University to play in the NCAA. He scored and in bunches in the OJHL but it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up at the collegiate level. He’s short, but has a stout frame and a strong accurate shot.
19) Peter Diliberatore (D)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #180 overall
Age: 18 (March 31, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Quinnipiac University (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: #20
A rare smaller defensive-minded defenseman (or at least that’s what he’s been scouted as), Diliberatore has nine points in 20 games as a freshman at Quinnipiac.More on Diliberatore
7/28/18 – As a high schooler playing with many high-end prospects and even a few professionals, Diliberatore kind of looked like a high schooler. It’s really not too fair to judge him on the performance at Development Camp though because as a shorter defenseman he was kind of thrown to the wolves.
Essentially an afterthought when drafted, he’s turning into a goalie that probably would have gone in the top few rounds had Dave Prior and McPhee not scooped him up in the 7th of the last draft. Still just 18, Kooy is putting up solid numbers as the backup for the London Knights. He’s posted a 2.52 GAA and .918 Sv%, both the best of all VGK goalie prospects in the CHL.More on Kooy
7/28/18 – Kooy had an incredibly rough first scrimmage at Development Camp, but quickly turned it around and may have even been the most impressive goalie in the second and third scrimmages. He appears to be a guy who has excellent upside and a year or six of working with Dave Prior never hurt anybody.
2) Dylan Ferguson
Acquired: via Trade from Dallas Stars with 2020 2nd Round Pick for Marc Methot (selected in 2017 Entry Draft, 7th Round, #194 overall)
Age: 19 (September 20, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Previous Ranking: #2
Ferguson has put up similar numbers to his other seasons in the WHL saving a little over 90% of shots. Due to his age he seems to be a bit further along than Kooy but the physical tools aren’t as promising. Don’t forget that he was the first to sign a contract, he was specifically targeted by VGK in a trade and he was seemingly the highest rated goalie in rookie camp. It’s neck and neck with Kooy but ties are no fun so Dylan drops down a spot.More on Ferguson
7/28/18 – You might remember young Dylan from his short stint with the Golden Knights, but you should remember him from his solid showing at Development Camp. He looked confident in the goal, something he didn’t look while in the net in Edmonton or even at Development Camp in 2017. Ferguson has a little bit of an edge to him, and it seems to translate to confidence and swagger on the ice. Plus, he’s awesome interacting with kid fans when he comes off the ice.
3) Maxim Zhukov
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #96 overall
Age: 19 (July 22, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Barrie Colts (OHL)
Previous Ranking: #3
The tallest of the Golden Knights goalies at 6’3″ is exactly the type of goalie Dave Prior likes. He’s very athletic and gets from post to post quickly. Aggressiveness in juniors tends to lead to lots of goals being allowed, which hasn’t exactly been the case with Zhukov, a good sign. It’ll be interesting to see how he looks after a full year against much better competition than he faced the year he was drafted.More on Zhukov
7/28/18 – His first year in the USHL was a bit better than his second which is exactly the opposite of his performance at Golden Knights Development Camp. This year he looked much more composed in the goal and used his large 6’3″ frame to play positionally sound. Judging goalies at the age of 19 is nearly impossible though, so don’t put too much stock in him being third yet being the highest pick of all the goalies.
4) Jiri Patera
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #161 overall
Age: 19 (February 24, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Previous Ranking: #2
Patera is the only one of the Golden Knights goalie prospects to have made a World Junior roster. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very good while playing with the Czech team. He had a miserable game the one he was in the net and even had the blooper of the tourney tripping while trying to get back to the net. His numbers in Brandon have been pretty good though, so don’t go crazy. These are 19-year-old goalies we are talking about, if any of them pan out it would be amazing.More on Patera
7/28/18 – Patera was selected by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the CHL Import Draft and is looking forward to trying his hand against better competition this season. He made a couple of incredible reactionary saves during 2018 Development Camp, one in particular that still boggles the mind as to how he kept the puck out. He seems to have quick reflexes and is a fairly large guy for his age.